Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 3 September 2019 – Packing the Soyuz MS-14

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
September 5, 2019
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 3 September 2019 – Packing the Soyuz MS-14
Expedition 60 flight engineer Christina Koch of NASA captured this image of Hurricane Dorian from the International Space Station on Sept. 2, 2019 as the storm churned over the northwestern Bahamas. Credit: NASA.

After a quiet, off-duty day for the crew of Expedition 60 on Labor Day, operations supporting science for long-duration human space exploration and upcoming spaceship movements ramped up on the International Space Station.
Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov are busy packing the Soyuz MS-14 with return gear before the vehicle parachutes back to Earth — without crew inside — this Friday, Sept. 6. Then, days later, the H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) is scheduled to launch on Sept. 10 from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. Its four-day journey to the orbiting laboratory will deliver 6.5 tons of new supplies and cargo.

NASA crewmates Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan continued prepping for the robotic capture of HTV-8, reviewing procedures to ensure a smooth installation of the spaceship to the Harmony module for its month-long visit.

Koch also performed Main Bus Switching Unit (MSBU) maintenance with fellow astronaut Nick Hague, afterward using a laptop connected to the MSBU with special test cables for a functional checkout of the repaired unit.

Science investigations continue in earnest, with Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) conducting VEG-04 operations and additional Veggie training, also capturing light measurements for the novel experiment that seeks to learn about the impact of light quality and fertilizer on leafy crops grown in microgravity.

Morgan and Parmitano spent time setting up and recording for ISS Experience, which documents life and research operations aboard the space station in cinematic virtual reality. Meanwhile, Koch worked with Microgravity Crystals, removing crystal plates from the Space Automated Byproduct Laboratory (SABL) to observe and photograph the sample wells under microscope before returning them to the SABL.

Extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian continues to churn in the Atlantic Ocean 250 miles below, with crew members getting an unparalleled view of the storm as it begins to move from an almost stationary position over the northwestern Bahamas. Now a high category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 110 mph with occasional higher gusts, it will continue to crawl northwestward at about 2 mph, with a slightly faster motion toward the northwest, or north-northwest, expected later today and tonight. The storm is expected to come perilously close to Florida’s east coast late today through Wednesday evening and skirt by Georgia and South Carolina’s coastlines Wednesday night and Thursday.

On-Orbit Status Report

ECHO: The crew attached the USB keyboard, powered the ECHO unit and its power supply, and booted the ECHO unit from its backup system. Ground commanding to the ECHO unit was subsequently performed in an effort to correct recent issues. The ECHO unit experienced issues last week which prevented the Vascular Aging science session from being fully completed. Echo is a tele-operated ultrasound system, equipped with motorized probes that are controlled by flight controllers on the ground.

ISS Experience: The crew recorded two sessions for the ISS Experience investigation. One session involved a musical session and the other session centered around Artemis and the process of lunar orbital rendezvous. The ISS Experience creates a virtual reality film documenting daily life aboard the ISS. The 8 to 10 minute videos created from footage taken during the six-month investigation cover different aspects of crew life, execution of science aboard the station, and the international partnerships involved. The ISS Experience uses a Z-CAM V1 Pro Cinematic Virtual Reality (VR) 360-degree camera with nine 190° fisheye lenses.

Microgravity Crystals: The crew set up a microscope, then took images of the solutions and crystals in the wells of the crystal plates. The Microgravity Crystals investigation crystallizes a membrane protein that is integral to tumor growth and cancer survival. Although crystallization of this protein has yielded unsatisfactory results on Earth, this investigation leverages extensive protein crystallization work on the space station, significantly increasing the likelihood of successful crystal growth. Results may support development of cancer treatments that target the protein more effectively and with fewer side effects.

Materials Science Laboratory (MSL): In a continuation of the checkout and recommissioning of the MSL and low gradient furnace insert (LGF), the crew inserted the calibration cartridge into the LGF. The actual calibration activities will be performed via ground commanding in the next few weeks. The MSL is used for basic materials research in the microgravity environment of the ISS. The MSL can accommodate and support diverse Experiment Modules. In this way many material types, such as metals, alloys, polymers, semiconductors, ceramics, crystals, and glasses, can be studied to discover new applications for existing materials and new or improved materials.

Space Moss: The 3rd run of Space Moss was initiated by inserting it into the Plant Experiment unit which was then attached to the Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF) incubator. Space Moss grows mosses aboard the ISS and on Earth to determine how microgravity affects their growth, development, gene expression, photosynthetic activity, and other features. Tiny plants without roots, mosses need only a small area for growth, an advantage for their potential use in space and future bases on the Moon or Mars.

Vegetable Production System (Veggie) Display Training and Light Meter Installation: In preparation for the start of the Veg-04B investigation in the near future, the crew reviewed training material and used the light meter to characterize the ambient light conditions in the Veggie-1 and Veggie-2 area. The Veggie is a deployable plant growth unit capable of producing salad-type crops to provide the crew with a palatable, nutritious, and safe source of fresh food and a tool to support relaxation and recreation. The Veggie provides lighting and nutrient delivery and utilizes the cabin environment for temperature control and as a source of carbon dioxide to promote growth.

Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) Intermediate (I)-Level Maintenance: Last week the on orbit repairable MBSU was placed on the Japanese Experiment Module Airlock (JEMAL) Slide Table using the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) and the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM). Today the crew opened the MBSU chassis to access a failed circuit card for replacement. A test was then completed to verify functionality of the unit prior to staging it for egress via the JEMAL. The SPDM will be used again this evening in order to swap the repaired MBSU with a failed MBSU. After the swap is complete, the failed MBSU will be brought inside ISS and prepared for return to the ground via SpaceX-19.

H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-8 On-Board Training (OBT): The crew completed a session of this robotics OBT for proficiency in HTV capture. Launch is currently scheduled for September 10 and capture on September 14.

Waste Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Separator Replacement: As part of routine maintenance, the crew completed the WHC Pump Separator replacement today. The Pump Separator is required to be replaced following 1 year of operation.

Completed Task List Activities:
ESA PAOs: Council of Europe; UN Climate Action, ITAF Innovation Day, Skylight, ITAF Flight Test Center 70th Anniversary, Wired Magazine,
ESA EPO: Body in Space
Vacuum cleaner return to service
EXPRESS failed light bulb R&R
Laptop CTB audit
AstroPi SD card swap
EMU glove RTV trim

Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.
MBSU I-Level maintenance support
Payloads ops support

Look Ahead:
Wednesday, 9/4 (GMT 247)

Fluid Shifts
IPU HRDL cable change
ISS Experience stow
LSG work volume deploy
Micro-15 hardware teardown
PCRF maintenance unit relocation
Standard Measures
Veg-04B experiment start

OBT HTV rendezvous
Acoustic monitoring survey

Thursday, 9/5 (GMT 248)

CBEF humidifier
Food Acceptability
Fluid Shifts
FSL/RUBI cable exchange
Microgravity Crystals
Rodent Research-17 maintenance
Space Moss
Time Perception

FSL power cable exchange
JOTI MBSU hardware stow

Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Probiotics Saliva Operations
Probiotics Saliva Sample MELFI Insertion
Probiotics Question
JEM Airlock Pressurization
Atmosphere Control and Supply (ACS) Oxygen Manual Valve Close
JEM Airlock Leak Check
On-board Training (OBT) HTV Robotics Review
JEM Airlock Slide Table (ST) Extension to JPM Side
Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) Remove from JEM Airlock
ВКС Laptops Antivirus software checkout
JEM Airlock Slide Table (ST) Retraction from JPM Side
Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) I-Level Maintenance
Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) I-Level Maintenance Assist
Return Cargo Transfer and Packing in Soyuz 743 (60S)
Microscope Hardware Setup via SABL Power
JEM Airlock Slide Table (ST) Extension to JPM Side
Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) Transfer to JEM Airlock
JEM Airlock Slide Table (ST) Retraction from JPM Side
Microgravity Crystals Microscopy Plate Set B, Session 1 (Day 4)
Battery Stowage Assembly (BSA) Operation Termination
Battery Stowage Assembly (BSA) Operation Initiation
HRF Generic Saliva Collection Setup
Solution Crystallization Observation Facility (SCOF) Cable Connection
Stowage of the equipment to be returned to earth
Microscope Reposition Post Ops
ISS HAM Service Module Pass
Installation of Cable Insert and Adapter on MDM2 Broadband Communication System (МДМ2 ШСС). Obtaining Extended Diagnostic Data from МДМ2 ШСС
PILOT-T. Experiment Session
PILOT-Т. Closeout
Reminder Standard Measures Multi-day Saliva Collection
Reminder Rodent Research Thermal Consideration
HRF Generic Saliva Collection 10 Minutes

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